Will Hawaii’s Distracted Walking Law Hit the Other States?

Categories: Personal Injury

distracted pedestrian

The penalties for distracted driving, especially texting and driving, have hit most states in the country by now. Whether they ban it outright or ban it for specific ages, the act of distracted driving is prohibited. However, one state is taking the issue of distraction further and implementing a plan to stop another type of distracted driving incident: the distracted pedestrian.

People who are glued to their smartphones and other devices tend to ignore the world around them, which increases the likelihood that they will walk into traffic and cause a catastrophic accident. That is why Hawaii created the distracted walking law, which is more than just crossing the street while texting.

How Does Hawaii’s Distracted Walking Law Work?

The bill, which was signed in late July 2017, requires that all pedestrians crossing the street look up from their mobile or electronic device. There are exceptions to this rule, such as dialing 911 and calling other emergency personnel. Also, first responders are not required to look up from their phones before crossing the street in specific situations.

However, the device list is well beyond the smartphone. While smartphones were the driving force of the new law, other devices include:

  • Digital cameras
  • Music devices
  • Laptops
  • Video game devices
  • And any other mobile device that a person could potentially look at while crossing the street

The Motivation Behind the New Law

Hawaii’s reasoning behind the new law is more than justified. Pedestrians are being hit in crosswalks throughout the country. In one Honolulu-specific study, it was found that 11,000 injuries came from pedestrians in the crosswalk that were too distracted from 2000 to 2011. Phone distractions are becoming a grave concern in the country – not just Hawaii.

The city will not enforce the new rule until after the three-month warning and training period. However, once the law does go into full effect, violators will face fines that will rapidly increase as time passes. A first offense ranges from $15 to $35, while a second offense can cost up to $75 and a third offense can go as high as $99.

The Importance of Pedestrian Awareness and Safety

Pedestrians are at high risk for traffic accidents in the United States. In 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), estimated that over 5,000 pedestrians were killed in accidents – and one dies every 1.6 hours in the United States.

Also, almost 129,000 pedestrians were injured in that same year, and pedestrians are 1.5 times more likely to be killed in an automobile accident.

Victims of Distracted Walking

While pedestrians often have the right of way in traffic situations, when a distracted pedestrian causes an accident they can be held liable for any damages that may result.

When You Are the Victim of a Distracted Person

If you are involved in a distracted driving or walking incident, and are not the distracted party that caused the incident, you could receive compensation for your injuries. It is important that you speak with a personal injury attorney, like Mark S. Rubinstein, P.C. today.

Schedule a no-obligation consultation with him now at 970-704-0888 or contact him online with your questions.

Mark Rubinstein

Attorney Mark S. Rubinstein has been practicing law for more than 30 years, including 25 years in Colorado. He founded Mark S. Rubinstein, P.C., in Carbondale after working for law firms in Denver and earlier in his career in San Diego. He focuses his practice in the areas of criminal defense and personal injury representation, and he is well known throughout western Colorado as an effective and unwavering advocate for his clients.